Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls agreed to a contract buyout on Sunday. The shooting guard will give up $8 million out of his $23.8 million contract and is now free to sign with any team. The 35-year-old did not want to play for the rebuilding Bulls, wanting instead to have one last opportunity at another championship. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and Miami Heat have all emerged as candidates for Wade’s services, but the Cavaliers are reportedly in the lead.
Wade wants a starting role, something that Cleveland can offer him. Shooting guard is not a strength for the Cavaliers. Starter J.R. Smith is decent, but backup Iman Shumpert has been awful of late and Kyle Korver is just a spot-up shooter at this stage of his career. Wade would coexist nicely with the Cavaliers’ lineup—able to provide scoring spurts on some nights, and taking a backseat when his aging body is tired.
LeBron James is perhaps the biggest reason for Wade to join the Cavs. The two are famously best friends, and teamed up to win two championships and reach four finals together with the Miami Heat. James and Wade have talked publicly about their desire to play together again, and now that chance lies right before them.
Of course, Carmelo Anthony, now of the Thunder, is also close friends with Wade. Both Anthony and Paul George have already begun the recruitment process. Oklahoma City has a hole at shooting guard as well. A starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Wade, George, Anthony, and Steven Adams is much more frightening than the current edition with Andre Roberson installed at the two-spot.
The Spurs are a surprising suiter, considering that they have no real pressing need for Wade. Danny Green and Manu Ginobili are both solid shooting guards with different skill sets that complement each other well. Green provides three-point shooting and defense, while Ginobili is a cunning ball-handler and passer, who drives to the basket at nifty angles. It is unclear where exactly Wade would fit into San Antonio’s system, but his desire to play for the Spurs makes sense. San Antonio is a winning organization, and any player who wants to win a championship has to have the Spurs on their list.
Signing with the Miami Heat would be a move for nostalgia’s sake. The Heat, while a solid team, are not a threat to win the Eastern Conference, let alone knock off the Golden State Warriors in the finals. Add in the fact that Wade and Pat Riley‘s relationship is still icy in the aftermath of Wade’s departure from the team, and it seems unlikely that Wade ends up in a Miami uniform again.
But what can Wade offer at this point anyway? His body has been battered by numerous injuries and he is more than a couple of seasons away from his prime. Last year was one of the worst years of his career.
With that being said, however, there is still a lot of positive buried underneath that negative heading. Wade’s per game averages of 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists do not sparkle like in years past, but they do reveal a guy who can still score the ball and do a little bit of everything. After all, those numbers came in only 29.9 minutes per contest.
Wade’s postseason games are encouraging as well. The shooting guard was lackadaisical and unenthusiastic for most of last season, but against the Boston Celtics, after Chicago jumped out to a 2-0 series lead, Wade showed he can still take over a game. In Game 2, he scored 22 points on .563 field goal shooting, and in Game 5 put together an impressive line of 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists.
So while Wade is not the superstar of 2009 or the super-sidekick of 2012, he can still be a solid and contributing role player in 2017. The shooting guard can still drive with power to the basket, and can draw attention with his ball-handling skills.
The question remains where Wade will wind up. San Antonio and Miami seem like longshots at this point, leaving Cleveland and Oklahoma City as competitors. While Wade reportedly wants to take some time to choose, training camp is already beginning, and the season is less than a month away. Wade’s decision could come sooner rather than later.
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